Heat is on for soft drinks in Thailand

Related tags Soft drinks Carbon dioxide Water Soft drink Thailand

Thailand's tropical climate is said to have fuelled the country's
thirst for soft drinks, with consumption growing steadily in recent
years. The latest report from Canadean points to the fact that rapid
consumption of bottled water and niche drinks is currently one of
the main drivers forces, a factor that is holding back the growth
of soft drinks.

According the report, the weather has helped to maintain a healthy soft drinks market despite the combined threats to tourism Asian-wide posed by 9/11, Bali and more recently, the outbreak of SARS. Carbonates have been hit by the growing popularity of Bottled Water and the very encouraging performance of some smaller categories. As a result, these categories have increased their share of throat at the expense of carbonated drinks, which has shown small growth in volume.

The Bottled Water market has almost tripled in the last decade and now accounts for almost 40 per cent of all soft drinks consumed. The trend towards healthy living and the aggressive promotional activity undertaken by larger suppliers have certainly generated plenty of demand for Thailand's abundant ground and spring water supplies. Per capita consumption is still relatively low though, whilst Flavoured/Value Added Waters and the premium segments are still very much in their infancy. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of hypermarkets and convenience stores should add further impetus to home consumption. As a result, the immediate future of Bottled Water looks bright, with plenty of potential for significant growth if consumption continues to catch up with that of the more developed markets.

Water delivery hampered by traffic jams

Although Bulk/HOD (home/office/delivery) Water is now said to be the third largest category, growth does appear to be slowing down. Household delivery is hampered by traffic congestion in the larger cities such as Bangkok and as a result, consumption only really occurs in the workplace.

Other categories to have performed well include Juice, Nectars and Still Drinks, the report highlights. These too have benefited from consumers becoming increasingly health conscious and offer a diverse selection of products from which to choose. Iced/RTD (ready-to-drink) Teas are also perceived as being healthy drinks and they are said to have grown spectacularly in 2003 thanks to extremely competitive pricing and the support of significant promotional expenditure.

Caronates still fizzing away

The share of throat enjoyed by Carbonates may be declining but consumption continues to increase. This growth is largely down to Cola upon which the report suggest that the category is now possibly over reliant. However, Canadean says that there are plenty of positives to be drawn. Carbonates are still hugely important and deliver significant volumes. On top of this quick service restaurants are becoming more widespread and new products including "healthy" alternatives are continually being developed.

Looking forward, the modernisation of Thailand's retail industry and the increased number of on-premise outlets should provide the opportunity for further steady growth. Canadean expect the total Soft Drinks market to again advance in 2004 but at a gentler pace than in 2003.

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